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Juul trying to recoup millions from Eonsmoke founders

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Juul is caught in a cat-and-mouse game with two cheeky entrepreneurs from New Jersey who appear to have gone to extreme lengths to keep their millions from the vaping powerhouse — risking possible criminal penalties in the process, The Post has learned.

Juul sued Gregory Grishayev, 34, and Michael Tolmach, 35, for trademark infringement in 2018 claiming their company Eonsmoke illegally marketed its vaping pods as “Juul compatible,” complete with packaging that looked eerily similar to Juul’s.

But rather than settle the case, Grishayev and Tolmach now stand accused of quietly stashing millions in corporate funds out of Juul’s reach — despite a federal judge having warned them last year not to touch the money “outside the ordinary course of business.”

In that same February 2020 ruling, New Jersey federal judge Kevin McNulty blasted the men for a series of brazen Skype messages showing them discussing how to keep their millions from Juul — warning them that he would not tolerate “LOL” as a response to his orders.

But just 10 months later, Juul was sounding the alarm on all kinds of alleged shenanigans — including millions of corporate dollars that were blown on personal expenses and millions more that were quietly moved offshore.

Many details of the pair’s alleged funny business are hidden from public view because court documents outlining them were filed under seal.

But publicly available filings show that Tolmach used $2.3 million of Eonsmoke’s money to buy a 3,900-square-foot mansion in Los Angeles’ Hollywood Hills last June, then spent another $341,000 on renovations, construction work and furniture.

That purchase — along with some other “unexplained” spending and money transfers — helped convince McNulty to freeze the men’s assets in December, court records show.
Then it emerged that they had also moved more than $23 million of Eonsmoke funds into Swiss bank accounts held through trusts they secretly set up in the South Pacific’s Cook Islands, “a jurisdiction well known for sheltering assets,” Juul alleged in court records.

Tensions have gotten so high that lawyers for Grishayev and Tolmach earlier this month asked McNulty whether he intends to “pursue criminal contempt sanctions against the defendants,” court papers show. The judge declined to say one way or another but has demanded more information on the money transfers.

Grishayev and Tolmach certainly look and talk the part of two 30-something businessmen from North Jersey willing to give a big middle finger to the system.
Tolmach, who studied at Baruch College and Bronx High School of Science, sports shaggy black hair, aviator sunglasses and a Hollister T-shirt in his Facebook profile picture.

Grishayev’s photo on the social network shows him posing with a drink in front of a darkly lit bar. In another 2014 photo he posted, he’s seen in a tight-fitting gray T-shirt next to rapper Ja Rule, who he claimed was “hanging out in the office.”

Rapper Ja Rule with Gregory Grisayev.
Rapper Ja Rule with Gregory Grishayev.
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“even if we lose the lawsuit, I will never sign check to Juul or ever pay them,” Tolmach allegedly wrote to Grishayev soon after Juul’s 2018 complaint was filed, court documents show.

“im not worried,” Grishayev wrote in a separate exchange that prompted the judge to warn the men against laughing about the case. “you can even still have same company [after bankruptcy] lol.”

Lawyers for the men have cast Juul as a corporate bully bent on snuffing out a tiny rival that offered consumers a cheaper alternative. Marc Agnifilo, the high-profile attorney whom Grishayev and Tolmach recently retained, declined to comment on the money transfers except to say that his clients will prevail against Juul’s trademark claims.

“We’re not prepared to comment on matters pending before the court, but we feel very confident in our litigation position and we look forward to a trial on the merits,” Agnifilo — whose previous clients include Nxivm cult leader Keith Raniere and “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli — told The Post.

Side by side comparison of Juul and Eonsmoke products.
Juul’s lawsuit says Eonsmoke illegally marketed its vaping pods as ‘Juul compatible.’

Grishayev and Tolmach were riding high in October 2018 when Juul filed its lawsuit. They were promoting the pods via influencers like Kardashian ex Scott Disick, former porn star Mia Khalifa and a YouTuber named “DonnySmokes” who was reportedly paid $1,000 each time he reviewed an Eonsmoke item.

Revenues exploded from $2.3 million in 2017 to $30 million in 2018, court papers show. By 2019, Eonsmoke was raking in an eye-popping $90 million and Grishayev and Tolmach had bought Ferraris and Lamborghinis along the way, according to court filings.

But Eonsmoke shut down by April 2020 amid growing legal and regulatory scrutiny. The FDA sent Eonsmoke a warning letter in 2019 saying its products were illegal because they didn’t have the proper federal marketing authorization.

The firm’s use of influencers also landed it in hot water with both the FDA and the Massachusetts attorney general, who sued Eonsmoke in May 2019 alleging that it targeted underage consumers.

“Mom! It’s a USB drive!!,” Eonsmoke wrote of its devices in an Instagram post cited by the city of Denver, which also sued last year.

But less than a year after shuttering, Juul was complaining to the court that the company’s funds had also gone up in smoke.

“Because of Defendants’ asset dissipation — which was indisputably in willful defiance of the Court’s orders — the amount of Defendants’ assets in their US accounts has dropped from over $31 million in January 2020 to less than $500,000 now,” Juul said in a Feb. 3 filing.

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Glasses retailer Warby Parker eyeing IPO as soon as this year

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Hipster glasses retailer Warby Parker is eyeing an initial public offering.

The 11-year-old business, which started out as an e-tailer before rolling out some 130 stores across the US, is considering an IPO as early as this year, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.

The New York-based company has amassed a huge customer following by offering less expensive prescription glasses. Warby Parker raised $120 million in its most recent funding round giving it a $3 billion valuation, according to the report.

“We’ve always explored various financing opportunities in both the debt and equity markets,” the company said in a statement. “To date, we have successfully and deliberately raised money within the private market on favorable terms and have plenty of cash on our balance sheet. We’ll continue to make strategic decisions in line with our commitment to sustainable growth.”

Founded by college buddies Dave Gilboa and Neil Blumenthal, who met at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Warby Parker has attracted some large investors including the mutual fund company, T. Rowe Price.

It turned it first profit in 2018, Gilboa told The New York Times at the time.

Warby Parker co-founder Neil Blumenthal
Warby Parker co-founder Neil Blumenthal
Brian Ach/Getty Images

Customers can get prescriptions through their apps on their smartphones and use cameras to pick out frames. The company also has an optical lab in Sloatsburg, NY where it produces lenses.

While Warby Parker is not the least expensive option, it beats Costco in a recent comparison with Costco charging as little a $126 for a pair of prescription glasses compared with Warby Parker’s least expensive pair at $95.

“As consumer walk into a LensCrafters or Sunglass Hut, they see 50 different brands of glasses but don’t realize that all those brands are owned by the same company that owns the store that they’re standing in, that probably owns the vision insurance plan they’r using to pay for those glasses,” Gilboa said in a recent CNBC interview.

“And so, it’s no surprise that a lot of those glasses are marked up 10 to 20 times what they cost to manufacture,” he said.

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Dogecoin hits new high boosted by DogeDay hashtags

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Dogecoin prices hit an all-time high on Tuesday, with a market capitalization above $50 billion, after social media fans used hashtags to fuel a rally in the meme-based cryptocurrency.

An 8,000 percent price surge this year has seen Dogecoin, which was launched as a satirical critique of 2013′s cryptocurrency frenzy, overtake more widely-used cryptocurrencies like Tether to become the fifth-largest coin.

While Dogecoin, whose logo features a Shiba Inu dog at the center of the meme, a represents only a fraction of bitcoin’s $1 trillion value, it can be traded on crypto exchanges and more popular mainstream trading apps.

“The Doge rally represents an interesting convergence,” said Diana Biggs, CEO of crypto start-up Valour, after Dogecoin’s price soared by more than five-fold in the last week to a record 42 cents, according to CoinMarketCap.

“A meme coin created as a joke for early crypto adopters whose community found that kind of thing to be fun, with now a new generation of retail investors for whom memes are a native language,” Biggs added.

Dogecoin fans used the hashtags #DogeDay and #DogeDay420 to post memes, messages and videos on Twitter, Reddit and TikTok, referring to the informal April 20 holiday to celebrate cannabis which is marked by smoke-ins and street parties.

“GIMME THAT DOGECOIN LAMBO!!! #DogeDay” one tweeted, referring to the Lamborghini car popular in crypto culture.

Dogecoin’s rise has come amid a surge in online trading of stocks and crypto by retail investors, stuck at home with extra cash because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has not coincided with a growth in usage of the coin for payments or in commerce.

The same trend has spurred a boom in usage of online trading apps like Robinhood, and also fueled the social-media driven rally in GameStop stock that pitted retail investors against hedge funds earlier this year.

“It’s an extension of the same phenomenon that has led Tesla stock to be valued well beyond fundamentals and more recently to the GME (GameStop) short squeeze,” said Ajit Tripathi, head of institutional business at decentralised finance startup Aave.

Like other cryptocurrencies, Dogecoin’s price is heavily influenced by social media users including Tesla chief Elon Musk, whose tweets on the cryptocurrency in February sent its price soaring over 60 percent.

“If this goes as planned and everybody including Mr. Musk go ahead and just pour money into Doge on April 20th all at once Doge will reach prices that originally were not even conceptual,” a TikTok user said in a video promoting the coin.



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Amazon is opening a beauty salon in London

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Amazon is opening a hair salon in London — its latest odd lurch into new businesses as the pandemic continues to fuel the e-commerce giant’s torrid growth.

The Amazon Salon, unveiled in a Tuesday blog post, will occupy a two-story, 1,500-square-foot space in Spitalfields, a trendy neighborhood in East London that is also home to Amazon’s UK headquarters, which houses about 5,000 employees.

Indeed, the new salon, which will be open seven days a week, initially will only cater to Amazon workers. Members of the public will be able to make bookings in “the coming weeks” by calling, emailing or visiting the salon, the company says.

“This will be an experiential venue where we showcase new products and technology,” Amazon said in a blog post on Tuesday, adding that there are no plans to open other salons.

That will include making Amazon’s Fire tablets available at each station, allowing customers to use augmented reality technology to see what they look like as a platinum blonde, brunette or with highlights, the company said.

The salon is located at Amazon’s UK headquarters, which houses about 5,000 employees.
The salon is located at Amazon’s UK headquarters, which houses about 5,000 employees.
Amazon

The salon will also test new “point-and-learn” technology, where customers can point at a product they are interested in on a display shelf and the relevant information, including brand videos and educational content, will appear on a display screen.

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